All the elements that make vacation so great—the new experiences, the change of scenery, the break from routine—also make it a little challenging, especially for families. If young children are part of the mix, the difficulty level rises significantly.
The time to relax together, connect, and enjoy new experiences makes the challenge worthwhile—and you can take charge of a lot of the elements that make vacations daunting.
Keep illness off the agenda
You’re not going to hermetically seal the family to keep germs away for vacation, so you can’t guarantee nobody picks up a cold or flu while you travel. You can take a few easy precautions to minimize the chances, however.
First and foremost? Insist that everyone wash their hands frequently, and especially before meals. It really is the surest, easiest preventive measure. If you’ll be bringing snacks on the road or keeping them around your hotel or condo, remember that food-borne illnesses are more likely to come from raw foods. Wash your fruits and veggies!
And if you’ll be flying, the crowded, contained environment means you’re much more likely to pick up an illness. Consider bringing your own pillows and blankets so that you’re not bringing previous passengers’ germs right up to your face. If you can’t wait until the flight’s over to snack, be sure to wash your hands first.
Stay safe in the sun
For many families, soaking in the sunshine is Reason No. 1 for taking a spring break trip. Feels amazing to bask in the warmth after a gray, shivery winter. To a point, anyway. If you’re out long enough to get sunburned, your fun could be over in a hurry.
You’re most likely to become burned between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., which also happen to be the hours most people are gallivanting beachside or hiking through the hills. (By the way, don’t forget that if you’ve sought a high-elevation vacation, thinner air means more chance for ultraviolet rays to get at you.)
Vacation doesn’t mean a break from the rules of sun protection. In short: Cover up with a hat; keep babies out of direct sun; reapply SPF 15 or greater every hour; and take advantage of shade when you can.
Enjoy the water safely
This is a big one, and it depends on how you plan to enjoy the water while you’re away. Whether you’re on the ocean, boating on a lake, or simply splashing in the hotel pool, water is a blast, but a good time that can go south fast and in a whole lot of ways.
Vigilance is imperative, and that means holding off on the cocktails until everyone’s done enjoying the water, no matter how good that afternoon piña colada may sound. It also means:
- Kids who aren’t strong swimmers wear floaties.
- Guardians stay within arms’ reach of swimming children.
- You teach kids not to run on the slippery poolside concrete.
- Sunscreen is reapplied every hour.
Set ground rules
Vacation excitement can mean kids (and grown-ups, frankly) lose their normal sense of caution. Reiterate to your kids that, especially away from home, they need to stay within sight.
Older children may be able to wander off, but not before you’ve agreed on where they’ll be and when they’ll return — and how they’ll get in touch if they need you or if plans change.
Make sure everyone knows what to do if they accidentally get separated from the group. Having a plan to reconnect can mean the difference between an inconvenience and a really scary few hours.
When you’re sure you’ve taken care of the basics for keeping your crew healthy and safe on vacation, you can do what you came for: relax and enjoy. Frankly, that’s a great route to making sure you stay healthy, too.